The best credit card processors of 2021

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frequently asked Questions

What is a credit card processor?

If you are a business owner and want to accept credit cards, Debit cards, or mobile payments, then you are called a merchant. Credit card processors, also known as merchant service providers or acquiring service providers, manage a service so that you can accept credit card payments in your company.

Merchant vendors offer software that allows you to view your transactions, fees, chargebacks, and more on a single dashboard. Typically, business owners can buy or lease hardware, including devices such as card terminals or mobile readers.

Any business that accepts credit cards, be it a restaurant or a retail store, uses a credit card processing service and equipment. Dealer services can also be integrated with point-of-sale (POS) systems, customer relationship management (CMS) software, or accounting programs.

Although it only takes seconds to accept a credit card payment, there is a complicated (and quick) process that involves authorization and authentication behind the scenes. Various security protocols are followed and information is transmitted to both the credit card network and the credit card issuing bank.

How do retailers work?

Dealer providers are the intermediary service that connects everything behind the scenes. Providers connect to the credit card network, thousands of issuing banks, and your banking services. To ensure the highest level of security, most credit card processors are PCI compliant and use advanced encryption methods.

In order to select the right credit card processing services, it is important to check your current or planned credit card payment volume and where customers are paying (online, at your checkout or via mobile devices). Then compare companies by looking at how much you’re paying for processing while evaluating customer support and additional services.

What equipment do I need to accept credit cards?

From a small square phone device to a freestanding POS checkout, your processing equipment will depend on the needs of your merchant service provider, what systems you already have and how you plan to accept payments. As more and more stores add mobile options, you may find kiosks or mobile payment devices in your store and a card terminal at your checkout.

Although you don’t need special equipment for ecommerce payments, many credit card processors may charge different online purchase prices or require you to purchase a separate plan for online services.

What are the cost of credit card processing?

Merchant credit services charge several Fees per transaction and offer monthly subscription programs. The most common price is the exchange rate. Credit cards like Visa charge this fee and it is passed on to you.

Most processors use an Exchange Plus pricing model. This fee includes a percentage of your sale that goes to the processor and a per-payment fee. Prices vary by company but usually have the following ranges:

  • Monthly fees: $ 0 to $ 599 per month
  • Transaction fees: 0% to 3.5% per payment
  • Flat fee: $ 0.05 to $ 0.30 per transaction


How we picked the best credit card processing companies

To narrow our list of loan processors down to just seven, we looked at dozens of reputable merchants. To get into our top list, providers had to be PCI-compliant and accept all major credit cards. For providers serving high volume accounts, 24/7 customer service was a must.

However, we know that business owners need more than just one more service. Integrations with your software are key, which is why we looked at processors that provide synchronization capabilities with your CMS, accounting and POS systems.

We narrowed our list further by assessing the total cost differences between companies with subscriptions or transaction fees while weighing the benefits of additional services or software options like inventory management software. We also combed data to find details on processing times and ease of setup.

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